Author: Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – Review

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – ReviewThe Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Will Patton
Genres: Young Adult, Supernatural
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is a young adult supernatural novel entering around Blue Sargent, Gansy and their search for Welsh king Glendower.  It is a quartet made up of The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily Lily Blue and The Raven King.  it is told from multiple points of view.

I will say that it took me some time to get into this series – at least two attempts of starting the book, and putting it down again.  This is despite a kickass opening in which the whole conflict of the series is laid out; it is foretold that Blue will kill her one true love when she kisses him, and Gansy is fated to die within the year. That is the hook to lure you into this series – you can’t help but want to know if these foretellings come true.  My initial struggle with this book is partly because, at first glance, the main protagonists are rather unappealing.  Gansy comes across as rich, arrogant and entitled.  Ronan is snarky and belligerent.  Adam is stubborn and independent to a fault and Noah is insipid.  It’s only when you get further into the books that the deeper layers of these characters are revealed and your understanding of them deepens.  After that I was very happy to continue marathoning the series.

There is a whole arc running through the series with resolutions of plot points in the first book only coming through in the final instalment.  Each book has its own theme which feeds into the major series story arc.  It is very well tied together if not overly complex. The Raven Boys is all about the setup; introducing the main driving plot of the series, the characters and the world.  The Dream Thieves is Ronan’s story and how his ability will aid his friends in their quest.  Blue Lily, Lily Blue focusses on Blue and also on deepening the relationships amongst the group and The Raven King ties everything up.  

What I liked

The characters.  The well written, nuanced and flawed characters and their relationships are the highlight of this series.  Stiefvater has developed a wonderful set of characters and the relationships that develop among them are beautiful to read.  They truly are stronger because they know each other.  The relationships are all unique; Blue acts differently with Noah than she does with Adam, and Gansy has a different relationship to Ronan than to Noah.  Additionally, the characters we meet in The Raven Boys are not the same ones we say farewell to in The Raven King – they have been changed by their experiences and each other.  That is one thing that always attracts me to a book series. It is mainly for the characters and character development that I continued reading this series.  I loved that each member of the group has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and each has a part to play in the story.

The world.  I loved the world Stiefvater created.  The kind of supernaturalness – ley lines, tarot, spiritualists/mediums – is one that always gets under my skin.  It’s superbly well done.

What I didn’t like

Not immediately likeable protagonists.  Though I was fascinated by the characters and engaged in their stories, I didn’t love them the way that I have loved some other protagonists.  Their stories were wonderful to read, but I’m not exactly sure I’d like to meet up with any of them for coffee.  After four books, I certainly felt as if I understood Gansy, Ronan and Adam a great deal better, even if I didn’t necessarily always like them.  This weakened the ending somewhat for me.

The Raven Cycle is an excellent series and well worth reading for the well written, nuanced characters and worldbuilding.  As a whole I gave the series four stars out of five.

four-stars

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016

yellowbrickwar

Hello and welcome to another reading roundup.  Again, it’s been a month where I’ve really struggled to focus on reading and blogging.  I really should be more ruthless about putting books into my Did Not Finish pile.  I spent too much of the month plodding through books which really weren’t doing anything for me.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #3
Also in this series: Dorothy Must Die
Format: eBook
Pages: 288 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-stars

With regards to Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige, I’ll be perfectly honest and say that my opinion and rating is heavily influenced by my – mistaken – impression that this was the final book in the Dorothy Must Die series.  This is a series involving an updating and reimagining of the world of L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. I had been expecting, and looking forward to, resolution to the plot points introduced in Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise.  So coming towards the end of the book when I realised there were no resolutions coming, I felt annoyed and frustrated.  My own fault, I freely admit it.  Had I known there was one more book to come, I could have better appreciated the continued excellent worldbuilding and character development in Yellow Brick War.  I will certainly read the conclusion when it comes out.  I look forward to reading the conclusion of Amy’s story.

I gave Yellow Brick War three stars out of five.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 336 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery
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Evelynne's rating: two-stars

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro is one I should probably have consigned to the Did Not Finish pile much sooner than I did.  The concept sounded fascinating.  In Cavallaro’s world Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson were real and their modern day teen descendants Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson meet up at an exclusive boarding school to solve mysteries.  It’s clear that a significant effort was made to reflect the personalities of Holmes and Watson in a modern day setting and to some extent it succeeded.  What completely turned me off this book is that the author introduced sexual tension between Holmes and Watson.  With that partnership it is a meeting of minds, not bodies and I personally lost all interest in the story after that.  That is a personal opinion and your mileage may vary.

A Study in Charlotte rated barely two stars out of five on my scale.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 468 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Supernatural
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

This was my second attempt to read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys.  The first time I started, I just couldn’t get into it at all.  This second attempt was much more successful.  It’s clear that this is setting up a series.  The book opens with a real bang – Blue is fated to meet and/or kill her one true love within the next year.  I definitely want to read how that plays out.  There were multiple points introduced that I expect will pay off in later books – I would say Stiefvater is an architect rather than a gardener.  I found the characters interesting even if not all of them are immediately likeable – or intended to be so.  The type of supernatural events in this book are ones that to me, personally, are very creepy.  I will have to take a break and read a cutesy contemporary to clear my mind before I start The Dream Thieves!

I gave The Raven Boys four stars out of five.

Reading roundup – March 30th 2016Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #9
Format: eBook
Pages: 350 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Fire Touched is the ninth book in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.  I must admit I wasn’t overly excited about reading it.  I like Mercy and the rest of her allies; I just feel after nine books her story has pretty much come to an end.  I’ve felt that way for the last couple of books.  It’s like a long established, high quality TV procedural.  You pretty much know what you are going to get going into it, but you still enjoy it.  I keep saying I’m not going to read any more, yet I still do and still enjoy them.

I gave Fire Touched three and a half stars out of five.

In other news, I’m beginning to get excited about Book Expo of America, BEA, in Chicago in May.  This will be my first time there, so if any of you old hats could give me some tips that would be very much appreciated.

Upcoming releases in April

There are two books coming out in April about which I’m rather excited.  

The first of these is Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.  This is a young adult fantasy and I was drawn to it by the concept; what happens to young people like Alice or Dorothy when they return home from Wonderland or Oz?  How do they adapt?  Every Heart a Doorway is released on April 5th and I’ve preordered it in Kindle format.

The second is Eligible, the next in the Austen Project series of modern retellings of Jane Austen classics.  Eligible is the adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and is written by Curtis Sittenfeld.  There is a sneak peek of the audiobook available on SoundCloud, which sounds fantastic.  I have preordered the book in audiobook format based on this snippet.  That’s not to say I don’t have my concerns.  The Austen project adaptations have ranged from the bland and uninspired (Emma, Sense and Sensibility) to the very, very good (Northanger Abbey).  Pride and Prejudice is probably the best known – and most adapted – of Austen’s works and Eligible has a lot of work ahead of it to compare to the superb Lizzie Bennet Diaries YouTube series. I am intrigued that Sittenfeld has moved the story to Cincinnati and aged up our protagonists to nearly 40, giving a more modern pressure point for Lizzie and Jane to look for a husband.  It could well work, and from the snippet I am cautiously optimistic.  Eligible is released on April 26th.

Have a good week and will review more books soon. 

three-stars
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